I must have intuited the rainy week ahead when I was struck last Sunday with the overwhelming craving for comfort food. My second realization that morning was that I had never attempted a lasagna by myself. Friends would be over in a couple of hours to try out a new game, Callisto, and a big pan of lasagna seemed the perfect way to feed the strategizing masses. My lasagna, though, needed to be a touch different.
After searching foodblogs and recipe books, I came across a winter greens lasagna recipe on CHOW.com. The incorporation of green leafy vegetables such as kale and chard that tend to frighten away the average eater definitely excited me. The ricotta and parmesan were a plus. And the inclusion of heavy cream and nutmeg convinced me that even my inexperienced lasagna hands were about to create something luscious.
Something about the recipe bothered me, though. It’s very heavy on the cream content, and I envisioned the whole thing emerging as a mass of sickly sweet creamy mush. I decided to substitute the creme fraiche with just plain tomato sauce. By doing so, I risked shifting the whole dish off balance, or creating, as Nick deemed it, “pink lasagna.”
But recipes are way more fun when personalized. So what if we ate pink lasagna? I would buy the best ingredients possible, including ricotta and reggiano from Rainbow Grocery, and red kale, swiss chard, and mushrooms from the farmer’s market, and if the lasagna turned out a greyish shade of Pepto Bismol, well at least it would taste good.
By layering the tomato sauce on the bottom two layers, I salvaged the aesthetic decency of the dish and rendered it only a pale shade of blush on the bottom. The cream made the winter greens smooth and tender, the nutmeg was a subtle reminder of sweet, and the mushrooms seemed to complement the tomato sauce and give the whole dish a bit more body.
So, if you make this lasagna, I suggest altering it slightly to fit your tastes. That’s perhaps the best thing about lasagna: you can’t really go wrong with pasta, ricotta, and heavy baking.